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On March 17, Irish culture is celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day. Rivers (such as the Chicago River in Chicago, Illinois) are dyed green. Skyscrapers (such as the Empire State Building in New York City, New York) are lit with green lights. Traditional Irish food, such as potatoes or boiled cabbage, is dyed green.
 
But . . . the saint's name wasn't Patrick! And . . . he wasn’t Irish! And . . . he's associated with the color blue, not green! And . . . that “traditional” Irish food? Not traditionally Irish! 
 
Maewyn Succat was a citizen of the Roman Empire, living on the island of Great Britain in the 400s. Maewyn was kidnapped, and forced to work as a slave on the nearby island of Ireland. He escaped, but returned to Ireland as a Christian leader. Maewyn changed his name to Patrick when he became a priest. 
 
St. Patrick was originally associated with the color blue. In fact, the Irish presidential seal remains a harp on a “St. Patrick’s blue” background. People originally wore a single green shamrock, a symbol of Ireland and Christianity, to honor St. Patrick. In 1798, Irish people opposed British rule. On March 17, 1798, Irish soldiers were among the first to wear solid-green uniforms.
 
Potatoes are the food most often associated with Ireland. However, potatoes are native to the Americas and were not introduced to Ireland until the 1500s. Corned beef and cabbage are actually Irish-American foods. Irish communities in places like New York City adapted recipes from the traditions of their fellow-immigrant neighbors—Jewish delis and Eastern European families. Although these foods didn't start out as Irish, they became Irish . . . just like St. Patrick.
adapt
Verb

to adjust to new surroundings or a new situation.

associate
Verb

to connect.

Christian
Noun

people and culture focused on the teachings of Jesus and his followers.

culture
Noun

learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

deli
Noun

(delicatessen) store selling freshly prepared or easily prepared foods, such as cooked meat, cheese, or salads.

diaspora
Noun

community of people scattered from their homeland.

escape
Verb

to get away.

eventually
Adverb

at some point in the future.

Great Britain
Noun

large island in Western Europe consisting of the countries of England, Scotland, and Wales.

identity
Noun

how a person defines themselves, or how others define them.

immigrant
Noun

person who moves to a new country or region.

introduce
Verb

to create, begin, or make an idea known for the first time.

kidnap
Verb

to hold a person hostage, usually for ransom.

national holiday
Noun

celebration or commemoration marked by citizens of a nation.

popularize
Verb

to make something attractive, acceptable, or understandable (popular) to a great number of people.

public
Noun

people of a community.

recipe
Noun

set of instructions for preparing a specific dish of food.

Noun

large stream of flowing fresh water.

Roman Empire
Noun

(27 BCE-476 CE) period in the history of ancient Rome when the state was ruled by an emperor.

seal
Noun

formal or official stamp, emblem, or other mark.

shamrock
Noun

small plant (a type of clover), usually with three leaves.

skyscraper
Noun

very tall building.

slave
Noun

person who is owned by another person or group of people.

soldier
Noun

person who serves in a military.

symbol
Noun

something used to represent something else.

tradition
Noun

beliefs, customs, and cultural characteristics handed down from one generation to the next.

uniform
Noun

identical set of clothes for members of an organization, such as a school or military.

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